Tag Archives: Flashback

Flashback: In Defense of The Chair

After taking my laptop in for repairs, I assumed that it would be a while until I got it back.

In the meantime, I’ve set up posts for some vintage stuff from The Big Piece of Cake: a little weekly feature called “Materialistic Monday” about stuff I was currently into (or just wishing I could afford to officially be into). Hopefully I’ll get my computer back and today will be the last day of flashbacks…

And if you’re wondering what I’ll do about my Fifi Flowers givewaway, I think I’ll just keep it open until I can spring my laptop from the Geek Squad jail. So ENTER HERE!

February 9, 2009
*This follows a “Friday Confession” that posted earlier today (you may want to read that first – a link can be found below).

I think my post on Friday was a little misleading. You see, this was not in fact the first time that I have referenced “the chair.”


The first time I featured it as a topic was in one of my Friday Confessions last November. I suggest reading that post for full details (don’t worry – it’s not as long my my usual novels). But here’s the short version: This chair is very popular with current style makers. It is well designed and is also somewhat historical. When I “confessed” to not liking it, I wasn’t trying to say, “hey look at this ugly chair.” I was really saying, “this celebrated chair is beloved by design gurus throughout the world….but I personally, think it’s ugly.” This was a confession, not a statement of personal opinion. Okay – well it was actually a statement of personal opinion, but in a wincing, “please don’t egg my house,” kind of way.

Truthfully, I was surprised to see how many people agreed with me. Because seriously – this is kind of a famous chair. And with modern/retro furniture so well represented in interior design publications, one would think that MOST readers would like it.

Even though I wasn’t looking for a debate per se (again – I was confessing to an abhorrence of something considered quite stylish), I was happy to see at least a few comments with opposing views. This would indicate that the post had a somewhat diverse readership. validating the actual topic as worthy of some discussion. Namely – who defines beauty?

My position when I first wrote about the chair (I know – like I had a “position” other than, “I think that’s one ugly chair” – but just play along okay?), was that beauty is subjective. Not everyone will agree on a given label, and sometimes we find ourselves in the minority camp. BUT – I do think that opinions are given more weight if they are well informed. So I will attempt to defend the chair in all of its plastic glory in order to show that I do actually appreciate the fact that it is deserving of love (if not from me).

So without further ado, I will now arbitrate for the maligned chair. Much like a defense attorney who doesn’t really believe her client.

As I explained in my original post, this chair has a prominent place in design history. It is an Eames. The one I specifically featured was an Eames Molded Plastic Armchair Rocker from Herman Miller.

In the early 1940s, Charles and Ray Eames experimented with new methods of bending plywood in the work they did for the navy wartime effort. They then applied these techniques to furniture, specifically chairs they designed for Herman Miller. They used molded plywood, fiberglass-reinforced plastic, bent and welded wire mesh, and cast aluminum. Their goal as to create a design that provided comfortable support through molding of the seat and back as opposed to the addition of cushioning.

Several chair bases were designed. The RAR (rocking armchair rod) pictured above has a molded fibreglass-reinforced polyester seat and an “Eiffel tower” base with birch wood rockers on the bottom. RAR rockers were first given as gifts to Herman Miller employees who just had babies.

The prototype of the RAR rocking chair was designed for the Museum of Modern Art’s international competition for low-cost furniture design in 1948.


This design was not initially mass-produced since fiberglass shells had not yet been developed at time of the competition. A condition that has happily since been remedied so that mass quantities of these chairs can now be found in:

private homes


Dooce has one in her office (on top of a filing cabinet – which I find puzzling…but have ultimately decided that it was just placed there for effect in the photo shoot).

catalogs and magazines


Anthropologie catalog, Fall 2008


and blog after blog after blog…

The picture I featured on Friday comes from the blog, Making It Lovely via Black Eiffel (again – it is ONLY the chair that I didn’t like, I do love the pillows).

In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this chair cannot only be judged only by the material of which it is made. There is far more to this chair than plastic, metal and a striking similarity to subway seating. It has a rich history in interior design. And 50 years of accolades and public demand don’t lie. This is not a chair to be taken lightly. Nor is the question of its beauty a decision to be taken lightly.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we are not asking you to love this chair (god knows I sure as hell don’t) – but we are asking you to decide whether the chair is in fact worthy of love.

You have heard the defendant plead “not guilty” to the charge of “truly ugly.” If and only if the defendant is judged UNWORTHY of love, can this charge be supported. Based on the evidence that has been presented today, only one answer can possibly be given in good conscience: Not guilty.

I now leave it in your hands to make this decision and ultimately confirm the public’s right to decide where they choose to find beauty in the world – a freedom upon which this, our great nation was founded. Thank you.

So now you know my vote: not guilty of true ugliness. Just the subjective kind that I apply as is my freedom to do so. Feel free to make your own choice – you won’t get any argument from me.

*Source material on the Eames Molded Plastic Armchair Rocker from designboom.com.

Flashback: Friday Confession – I Hate This Chair

After taking my laptop in for repairs, I assumed that it would be a while until I got it back.

In the meantime, I’ve set up posts for some vintage stuff from The Big Piece of Cake: a little weekly feature called “Materialistic Monday” about stuff I was currently into (or just wishing I could afford to officially be into). Hopefully I’ll get my computer back and today will be the last day of flashbacks…

And if you’re wondering what I’ll do about my Fifi Flowers givewaway, I think I’ll just keep it open until I can spring my laptop from the Geek Squad jail. So ENTER HERE!

November 14, 2008
*This is a little different. It was a “Friday Confession” – but since it’s style related – I thought I’d include it here. I wrote a “Materialistic Monday” follow up which will follow this one.

I hate this chair.

And apparently – I’m one of the few people willing to admit it. You see – it’s expensive. And important designers like it. And people don’t like to admit that they don’t like expensive things that “the experts” admire.

Until now. Until me. Until I just couldn’t take one more sighting of this chair without coming clean. This chair is EVERYWHERE. Every time I open a catalog or peruse a magazine spread on a celebrity home, this chair is in the background. I think it’s ugly, and I can honestly say that I wouldn’t even want it if you paid me to take it off your hands. Actually, that’s not true. I would take the chair and your money and then make even more money selling it on Ebay. Because people are willing to pay up to $500 for this chair (more if it’s one of the original fiberglass ones).

“But it’s an Eames Molded Plastic Armchair Rocker from Herman Miller!” you exclaim. Yes – I am aware of this. I don’t like it. I have limited funds to spend on luxuries, and I’d like to think that I spend them wisely. At least 75% of the time. Okay 50%. But wise investment or not, I do actually like everything I buy. And I’m willing to spend more on something that I deem to be worth the sacrifice. I’ve always believed that for the most part, “you get what you pay for.” But for $500, I would think that I’d be getting something better than a plastic chair.

Do you think I’m provincial? Do you suspect that I wouldn’t recognize style if it bit me on the ass? Do you wonder if I’ve ever even seen Domino Magazine? I don’t blame you for these questions, because it’s obvious that I’m just not seeing what the rest of the world sees in this chair.

Is it me, or does this chair look startlingly similar to plastic high school cafeteria chairs? A cafeteria rocking chair if you will… Personally – I don’t care to own a chair that even looks plastic (or brings back memories of suspicious chicken and overcooked pasta). I don’t care if it is an Eames. In my book, an expensive chair should crafted from wood and/or beautiful upholstery textiles. And yes, I am aware that I’m now channeling Joan Cusack’s character in Working Girl – the part when she looks at a simple, black couture cocktail dress and says, “Six thousand dollahs!? It’s not even leathah!” Remember – this is a confession. And I’m admitting to not liking something that has been celebrated by great designers for 70 years.

But that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. History making or not – I hate that hideous chair. Comments are now open for my public stoning.

Have a great weekend!

Flashback: Try Walking in My Shoes – Why Don’t You?

After taking my laptop in for repairs, I assumed that it would be a while until I got it back.

In the meantime, I’ve set up posts for some vintage stuff from The Big Piece of Cake: a little weekly feature called “Materialistic Monday” about stuff I was currently into (or just wishing I could afford to officially be into). So expect to see more of that this week.

And if you’re wondering what I’ll do about my Fifi Flowers givewaway, I think I’ll just keep it open until I can spring my laptop from the Geek Squad jail. So ENTER HERE!

September 22, 2008

Today – I want to tell you how much I love my shoes (remember – I said I would talk about my shoes). Now DON’T go anywhere! I know this sounds kind of boring – but I promise it won’t be. And there will be nudity. Okay – that’s not true…and I’ve used that trick already, so I doubt anyone will fall for it again.

The only nudity involved is a pictorial of sandals and therefore exposed toes. So I guess if you are one of those creepy foot fetish people, this might be considered nudity. But for the rest of you that have no interest in shoes (like every man in my family), I will understand if you decide to pass on this one. Everyone else – glad that you decided to stick with me (except for you foot fetish people – I’m just tolerating you.)

I do not own 150 pairs of shoes and the ones I do own are not necessarily what many would consider expensive (meaning I do not own one pair of Manolos, Jimmy Choos or Louboutins). But I take my footwear choices pretty seriously. I think that I’ve made some very good investments over the years and I am willing to pay for something that I think will last far longer than a single season.

I buy my shoes in various boutiques and department stores, but the brand that never ceases to surprise me is Ann Taylor. Growing up in conservative DC, Ann Taylor has always been a bit of a go to for me. I know what I’m going to get there, and I can usually find what I need. Not that it’s the only place I shop – but it’s a great resource for basics and they always have some kind of sale going on. I rarely go in looking for accessories – but inevitably the shoe section catches my eye. I have made some of my best shoe investments there.

Here are a few shots of some sandals I own that are SEVEN YEARS OLD:

Now – I don’t know about you – but I think that’s a pretty long life span for shoes that get a lot of wear and tear. I break these babies out the minute temperatures rise to 60+ degrees and continue to wear them through Indian Summer.

[An aside: Those are actually my feet and I took all three pictures this morning at work. Two things should be noted: 1. It is really hard to take pictures of your own feet and 2. I wanted to mention that I was at work so that no one would think that I have industrial carpet or “bone” white paint in my home.]

I bought these sandals from Ann Taylor as part of a bridesmaid outfit for an afternoon wedding in October 2001. Some of the other bridesmaids opted for a less expensive version at another store – but I saw the potential in the slightly pricier pair… And how right I was.

I don’t know what it is about the style – but it has of yet to look outdated. Maybe it’s a lack of full commitment to style (strappy but not too strappy…high heel but not stiletto…). Either way – it works for me. They are in great condition and I think I’ll be wearing them for another seven years. Of course I recognize the fact that we ALWAYS think that we own something so great and basic that will last forever and never go out of style until one day we look in the mirror and say, “Oh my god – I’m wearing a tapestry vest!” But I think I’ve got a few years before I look at these shoes and think they’ve become mules overnight.

I have numerous other Ann Taylor shoes and boots. All of which have lasted for years AND have been incredibly comfortable (never to be taken off under the desk where no one can see). I felt a tribute was in order for my first materialistic post. For those of you who are still with me – thank you for sitting through the longest blog post about mid-price range shoes EVER.

As a disclaimer – I have to admit that the current collection doesn’t really grab me. But I never tire of animal prints, and I do think I could wear those Cinara Giraffe Flats with jeans all weekend long. I’ll have to keep an eye on them to see if they go on sale…

Flashback: Initially Challenged

After taking my laptop in for repairs, I assumed that it would be a while until I got it back.

In the meantime, I’ve set up posts for some vintage stuff from The Big Piece of Cake: a little weekly feature called “Materialistic Monday” about stuff I was currently into (or just wishing I could afford to officially be into). So expect to see more of that this week.

And if you’re wondering what I’ll do about my Fifi Flowers givewaway, I think I’ll just keep it open until I can spring my laptop from the Geek Squad jail. So ENTER HERE!

October 27, 2008

The early 80s were hard for me. As a young girl, I wanted nothing more than to fit in and be like everyone else. But I wasn’t like everyone else. All of my friends had something that didn’t. I didn’t have a middle name. Which means that I didn’t have a middle initial. WHICH MEANS that I couldn’t have monograms.

The preppy look was in and monograms were everywhere at Annunciation grade school: on sweaters, on tote bags, on jewelry… And two initials just weren’t enough. When it came to monograms, I was a day late and a letter short.

But I wouldn’t be denied. I loved monograms and if I had to lie, cheat or steal to have one – so be it. Luckily I only had to lie, and just made up fake middle initials to go with fake middle names. First there was M for “Mary” which could be attributed to either the Catholic school influence or my love of all things Little House on the Prairie. But Mary didn’t stick. So I moved onto “Eleanor,” which felt a bit more real to me since it was a family name. And it was the only family name I would consider since none of the others held much appeal for me: Olive, Hazel, Ruth, Reperatta, etc. I don’t remember if anyone questioned my alternating initials, but I’m sure they did. I was a very odd little girl.

While I was once bitterly resentful about my parents’ decision to shortchange me on a middle name, I have to admit that I now understand. When it came time to select names for my own children, I was struck by how superfluous a second first name seems. What is the point of it anyway? Is it like “a spare” in case you lose your first one? When does it actually come in handy? But I couldn’t inflict the same indignity of a monogramless childhood on my own babies. Instead we chose family names to use as middle names so that there would be some relevance to them.

Of course it all worked out in the end for me. When I got married, I was able to make my maiden name my middle name and VOILA – monograms! I was thrilled. But monogram sweaters really weren’t en vogue for the late 20s crowd in the year 2000, so I had to find another outlet for my monogram mania. My first opportunity arrived when we picked out our wedding invitations. We ordered our thank you note paper at the same time, and I had a huge book full of monogram styles to choose from. I went all out and selected a gold leaf Florentine script. My mother initially thought it might be a bit much and tried to steer me toward some more conservative (boring) styles. I was having none of it, and insisted on the gold. And I still stand my by choice. It was my monogram coming out party and I needed something special.

So what does this have to do with my Materialistic Monday theme? I recently found some monogram necklaces online that brought it all back…(hence the frivolous stroll down memory lane).

Last week, I happened upon the Max & Chloe jewelry site. One of the featured pieces happened to be a gold monogram necklace that immediately caught my eye. I clicked on the designer’s page (Brian Danielle) and fell in love with this:

Let’s take a closer look at that:

Swoon. A little expensive (for me) at $385. But I had a very nice daydream about buying it.

Then I started checking out other designers on the site, and I found MORE MONOGRAMS! How about this pretty oval one from Kacey K?

Oh dear – if I can’t afford the first one, then $1,320 is definitely out of my price range. But soooo pretty… I think that calls for another daydream. Hmmm….

Okay – one more try! After a little searching, I found another option (this time from Sonya Renee) that I loved and could even afford if I saved my pennies for a while:

I really like the effect of the monogram as a circle within a circle. Need a close up?

Somewhat of a deco effect? Whatever it is – it brings to mind an old school cufflink. Not sure how an H in the middle would look, but at $112, I might be willing to give it a try.

Don’t worry Chris – I know this isn’t the time to be buying monogram necklaces that I don’t need. But my Monday theme is about things I don’t need but want. So there you have it. Monograms. Wonder if I can find any signet rings online…I always wanted one of those…

Flashback: Dolls from Inside a Black Apple

After taking my laptop in for repairs, I assumed that it would be a while until I got it back.

In the meantime, I’ve set up posts for some vintage stuff from The Big Piece of Cake: a little weekly feature called “Materialistic Monday” about stuff I was currently into (or just wishing I could afford to officially be into). So expect to see more of that this week.

And if you’re wondering what I’ll do about my Fifi Flowers givewaway, I think I’ll just keep it open until I can spring my laptop from the Geek Squad jail. So ENTER HERE!

November 17, 2008

Recently, I guest posted on this blog as myself at nine years old. One thing I remember most about that time is how much I still loved my dolls. I was in the end stage of dolls being age appropriate. I didn’t actually see the change coming, but this shift wasn’t lost on me at the time. I knew that it was becoming less common for girls my age to actually “play” with them – and more and more, I had to cloak my love of dolls in the guise of being a “collector.”

Of course, as I grew up, my interests diversified. But I have always just loved dolls. I live in fear that my daughter will be a die hard tomboy and I won’t be able to live vicariously through her as she plays with her own dolls.

So for this week’s Materialistic Monday, you can just imagine how much I covet THIS:

Emily of Inside A Black Apple has long been one of my Etsy favorites. Her whimsical paintings are sweet but always with a bit of an edge. And the little characters she creates are so original and lovable. But she really won me over with her dolls. This new one is probably my favorite so far.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any cuter…

Ohmygod it just did. I want ten please!

Sadly (for me) this one wasn’t for sale. It was made for a friend’s little girl. Kate Coveny, age nine, is currently writhing in jealously.

Here is another one that charmed me:

Seriously. A bear hat? I love it.

Even more frustrating, her wonderful dolls sell out of the shop within minutes (this seems to be a theme for my favorite Etsy stores…) So the chances of my ever getting a little blond one for my blond little girl – let alone buy one at all – are slim to none.

If I ever learn how to sew, I do have the option to make one. Check out her tutorial with Martha Stewart. Okay – since that’s never going to happen, maybe a friend will make one for me – I mean – Eleanor. So if you feel so inclined, my birthday is in April (come on – of course it’s for me!)

Flashback: J. Crew Longings and the Groundhog’s Cruel Prediction

After taking my laptop in for repairs, I assumed that it would be a while until I got it back.

In the meantime, I’ve set up posts for some vintage stuff from The Big Piece of Cake: a little weekly feature called “Materialistic Monday” about stuff I was currently into (or just wishing I could afford to officially be into). So expect to see more of that this week.

And if you’re wondering what I’ll do about my Fifi Flowers givewaway, I think I’ll just keep it open until I can spring my laptop from the Geek Squad jail. So ENTER HERE!

February, 2, 2009

Today was Groundhog Day – something that I never realize until I hear about it on the radio. I rarely give that much thought to Groundhog Day, but after the ice capades that was my life last week, I was very interested in this year’s prediction.

I am ready for Spring.

I’m always cold. I’m over sweaters. And I’m tired of looking like a sad housewife who’s finally thrown in the towel and committed to college sweatshirts as a part of her daily uniform. The only time I don’t look like I’m wearing jammies is when I go to work. And even there, I’m rotating my few turtleneck sweaters so rapidly that they will be threadbare by the end of this month.

So when I heard that that hack groundhog predicted another six weeks of winter, I felt a bit deflated. Six weeks sounds like a really long time right now. Even as I type this my fingers feel like ice and I’m hunched over like an old crone. Damn you fickle groundhog! Who died and made you boss of the Spring season?

Further feeding my cravings for warm breezes and sandals are the sun filled Spring catalogs that are delivered to my door each day. The models look so relaxed (and warm) as they frolic across those beaches and meadows… I know, I know – it was probably 30 degrees outside when they shot those layouts – but still! I want to wear flip flops and halter tops and eat ice cream on my front steps. I want to hear birds chirping when I walk out my front door. I’ll even fend off a few mosquitoes. I just want Winter to be over!

Since it seems that I’ll have to wait six more torturous weeks, I’ll have to make do with perusing catalogs of Spring clothing. And right now, I’m in love with J. Crew’s delicate colors, fabrics and detailing. Many of their featured pieces even look to be inspired by Spring flowers.

This is the first one that caught my eye:

Solid Silk Garland Cami

I’m in love with the intricate neckline of “petals.”

I want one in every color.

Then I found this gorgeous vintage inspired print:

New Hudson shell fresco-print top

It also comes in a sweet little cardigan.

Shoes even!

I would exchange one of my children for the Silk fresco gala clutch if J. Crew would let me.
Even the pieces in neutral colors evoke feelings of Spring:

At first I thought this was just a beautifully cut shirt. Then I saw a close up view of the Liberty Art fabric wildflower pattern. A simple cut + an intricate fabric = a perfect shirt for Kate’s Spring wardrobe fantasies.

I don’t even know where to start with the Crocodile cocktail jacket. The three quarter sleeves, the ruffle collar – I’m literally breathless. “Currently seeking to fill the position of Personal Fairy Godmother. Retail experience required. Ability to conjure this jacket a plus.”

Another petal detail neckline can be found on this amazing occasion dress:

Did you know that chartreuse is my signature color? Okay – not really, but I love saying “signature color.” Very Steel Magnolias.

I think I’d accessorize with this bracelet.
Sadly I don’t have any pin money for shopping at the moment and can’t even indulge in this gorgeous sale item: the Victoria ruffle cami.

It’s even available in my size which is unheard of for sale items… Sigh. It’s criminal really. Or at least a real bummer.


Why am I so poor right now? It’s just not right when there are so many Materialistic Monday worthy Spring fashions hitting the shops. Makes me feel like shaking my first and shouting, “I’ll get you Recession! And your little groundhog too.”

*Contrary to the Steel Magnolias and Wizard of Oz quotes – I am not in fact a gay man. Just wanted to clarify.